Petzl Tikka ReviewPrice: $30 List | $29.00 at Amazon
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Claimed Distance: 60 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI): 3.9 hrs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Tikka R Plus is a solid product with the French company's long lighting pedigree behind it. It is expensive, and the price is a function of the debatably useful reactive lighting technology. However, this is the least expensive headlamp from Petzl with this technology.
The R Plus headlamp is bright enough for most trail finding tasks. Whether you use the reactive mode or opt for manual beam adjustment, the max brightness is the same and sends usable light a respectable 52 meters. This is basically the same as our Editors' Choice winning Black Diamond ReVolt but nothing like the 157 meters of our Top Pick winning Fenix HP25R. As you can see in the beam comparison below the brightness difference with the Fenix is considerable.
When compared to the slightly more expensive Petzl Tikka RXP, which also uses reactive technology, you can see that the RXP is brighter than the R Plus.
At close proximity, Petzl's long pedigree with LED's and associated lenses is clear. The R Plus casts a smooth beam that is just broad enough to fill the user's periphery. If you use the optional, and expense-adding reactive feature, the close proximity lighting of the R Plus becomes quite annoying. Any other light source or reflection confuses the reactive sensor and results in flickering and flashing that completely negates any aimed-for advantages. We recommend becoming familiar with the quite complicated button options on this Tikka and opting for standard mode in close proximity situations. In this context, the similarly rechargeable and well designed ReVolt is a much better deal, at considerably less cost.
The life of a fully charged R Plus battery is nothing spectacular. Many products lasted longer in our ANSI test, while many were less effective. We test all headlamps' battery life in their respective highest mode. Brighter lights, in normal usage, will be used more often in their lower settings. Therefore, brighter lights have a battery life that is actually longer than our coffin test results indicated. Augmenting the battery life is above average brightness and a locking switch. This locking switch keeps the light from coming on in your pack and running down the batteries. Finally, while we noticed no appreciable difference in our testing, it is conceivable that the reactive technology would reduce overall battery drain as compared to non reactive products.
As compared to its more expensive cousin, the Petzl Tikka RXP, the R Plus's primary difference is in brightness. Essentially, it shines half the distance for $15 less. This alone puts the overall performance back in favor of the RXP. However, as compared to the other expensive lights in our test (all those greater than $70, like the Nitecore HC50, Black Diamond Icon, and Petzl NAO) the R Plus is by far the least bright. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Black Diamond ReVolt is rechargeable, costs $15 less, and shines basically the same distance.
The R Plus is heavier than 18 of the 27 other products in our test. The rechargeable battery and reactive technology both add bulk and weight, and whether they are worth it is your choice.
Ease of Use
With two buttons and a deep repertoire of customizable options, the R Plus is certainly not the simplest product in our test. Like any complicated piece of electronics, once the user is familiar with it, the R Plus and its features are appreciated. However, especially as compared to something ultra simple like the Black Diamond Gizmo, the R Plus is complicated and cumbersome.
This product is best for those that will truly appreciate the rechargeable battery and the reactive technology. Understand the limitations of the reactive lighting, and realize that is not a sure-fire fix for varying lighting demands, but it does have its place. If reactive lighting is not for you, and we have decided that it is not the best for most users, there are far better performing products at much lower prices.
Again, if you need and want reactive technology, this is a great value. It is the least expensive product on the market that will adjust the light for you. However, very few people actually need this feature. Therefore, a whole host of less expensive products will also serve very well.
For most consumers, the primary question here will be if you wish to have reactive lighting technology or not. If you want your headlamp to automatically adjust the light output, consider one of Petzl's Reactive lamps. The Petzl NAO is a full-function, big-and-beefy light with reactive tech. The RXP is bright, but more compact. The R Plus, reviewed here, is the smallest and least expensive, with reasonable battery life and has the option to add an adapter for standard AAA batteries.
— RJ Spurrier
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Most recent review: May 28, 2018
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